One of the most difficult things that can occur when you are trying to have a conversation with someone in Japanese is when they change the topic without prior warning. This happened to me today when I thought that I was discussing the difficulties of learning technical theatrical vocabulary with a cast member of ‘Route 99’. After being asked what I had assumed was ‘What is a typical British play?’ I responded with ‘Hamlet’. This was countered with ‘What, ham?’, followed by me saying: ‘No Hamlet’; this intellectual exchange continued, until I realised that I was being asked me what a typical British meal consisted of. Thankfully I was able to rectify my mistake before anyone became convinced that the average Englishman survives on a lonely diet of ham and Shakespeare.
Later in the day I got into another rather interesting discussion with a different cast member, in which he attempted to explain to me all of the symbology in ‘Route 99’, and what it meant to the average Japanese person. Needless to say I became hopelessly lost, but the odd fraction that I did understand seemed to be fairly interesting. All I’d really wanted to know was why white paint was being used by the backstage crew instead of red, but I decided to just ‘go along’ with where he was taking the conversation, all to aware of the danger that could be wreaked by a sudden change in direction.